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Language Across Time

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Caroline Shen

on 17 September 2012

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Transcript of Language Across Time

LYTHE and listin, gentilmen,
That be of frebore blode;
I shall you tel of a gode yeman,
His name was Robyn Hode.

Robyn was a prude outlaw,
[Whyles he walked on grounde;
So curteyse an outlawe] as he was one
Was never non founde.

Robyn stode in Bernesdale,
And lenyd hym to a tre;
And bi hym stode Litell Johnn,
A gode yeman was he.

And alsoo dyd gode Scarlok,
And Much, the miller’s son;
There was none ynch of his bodi
But it was worth a grome.

Than bespake Lytell Johnn
All vntoo Robyn Hode:
Maister, and ye wolde dyne betyme
It wolde doo you moche gode.

Than bespake hym gode Robyn:
To dyne haue I noo lust,
Till that I haue som bolde baron,
Or som vnkouth gest. By Caroline Shen LLGR Language Comparison The Gest of Robyn Hode, 1450s ------------------
That may pay for the best,
Or som knyght or [som] squyer,
That dwelleth here bi west.

A gode maner than had Robyn;
In londe where that he were,
Euery day or he wold dyne
Thre messis wolde he here.

The one in the worship of the Fader,
And another of the Holy Gost,
The thirde of Our der Lady,
That he loued allther moste.

Robyn loued Oure der Lady;
For dout of dydly synne,
Wolde he neuer do compani harme
That any woman was in.

‘Maistar,’ than sayde Lytil Johnn,
‘And we our borde shal sprede,
Tell vs wheder that we shal go,
And what life that we shall lede.

‘Where we shall take, where we shall leue,
Where we shall abide behynde;
Where we shall robbe, where we shal reue,
Where we shal bete and bynde.’

‘Therof no force,’ than sayde Robyn;
‘We shall do well inowe;
But loke ye do no husbonde harme,
That tilleth with his ploughe. ‘No more ye shall no gode yeman
That walketh by gren -wode shawe;
Ne no knyght ne no squyer
That wol be a gode felawe.

‘These bisshoppes and these archebishoppes,
Ye shall them bete and bynde;
The hy sherif of Notyingham,
Hym holde ye in your mynde.’

‘This worde shalbe holde,’ sayde Lytell Johnn,
‘And this lesson we shall lere;
It is fer dayes ; God sende vs a gest,
That we were at oure dynere!’ James Childs, Francis, "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads", 1882-1898 line missing in all known sources meaning 'story', 'tale', 'adventure' or 'deed' Attend use of 'i' instead of 'e' 'il' instead of 'li' or 'le' freeborn blood 'yeman' or 'yeoman' - broad social rank ranging from landowning farmers to servants and attendants. all 'ode' and not 'ood'
(Great Vowel Shift (GVS)) modern 'prude' - person who is excessively modest and proper.

M.E. 'prude' - proud. GVS 'ude' -> 'oud' Outlaw: person excluded from legal protection.
M.E. 'outlaw': sentence reserved for criminals who refused to appear for trial in court. Alternate spelling, added 'e' Barnesdale swapped 'i' with 'y' man Alternative spelling much 'd' and not 'th' interchangeable 'u' and 'v' I'm feeling ever so much better! I don't sleep much at night, for it is so interesting to watch developments; but I sleep a good deal in the daytime.
In the daytime it is tiresome and perplexing.
There are always new shoots on the fungus, and new shades of yellow all over it. I cannot keep count of them, though I have tried conscientiously.
It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw--not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things.
But there is something else about that paper-- the smell! I noticed it the moment we came into the room, but with so much air and sun it was not bad. Now we have had a week of fog and rain, and whether the windows are open or not, the smell is here.
It creeps all over the house.
I find it hovering in the dining-room, skulking in the parlor, hiding in the hall, lying in wait for me on the stairs.
It gets into my hair.
Even when I go to ride, if I turn my head suddenly and surprise it--there is that smell!
Such a peculiar odor, too! I have spent hours in trying to analyze it, to find what it smelled like.
It is not bad--at first, and very gentle, but quite the subtlest, most enduring odor I ever met.In this damp weather it is awful, I wake up in the night and find it hanging over me.
It used to disturb me at first. I thought seriously of burning the house--to reach the smell.
But now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell.
There is a very funny mark on this wall, low down, near the mopboard. A streak that runs round the room. It goes behind every piece of furniture, except the bed, a long, straight, even smooch, as if it had been rubbed over and over.
I wonder how it was done and who did it, and what they did it for. Round and round and round--round and round and round--it makes me dizzy! The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1892 ----------I really have discovered something at last.Through watching so much at night, when it changes so, I have finally found out.The front pattern does move--and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it! Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over.Then in the very bright spots she keeps still, and in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard.And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern--it strangles so; I think that is why it has so many heads.They get through, and then the pattern strangles them off and turns them upside down, and makes their eyes white!If those heads were covered or taken off it would not be half so bad.
I think that woman gets out in the daytime!
And I'll tell you why--privately--I've seen her!
I can see her out of every one of my windows!
It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight.
I see her on that long road under the trees, creeping along, and when a carriage comes she hides under the blackberry vines.
I don't blame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight.
I always lock the door when I creep by daylight. I can't do it at night, for I know John would suspect something at once.
And John is so queer now, that I don't want to irritate him. I wish he would take another room! Besides, I don't want anybody to get that woman out at night but myself.
I often wonder if I could see her out of all the windows at once.
But, turn as fast as I can, I can only see out of one at one time.
And though I always see her, she may be able to creep faster than I can turn!
I have watched her sometimes away off in the open country, creeping as fast as a cloud shadow in a high wind. The English Language has endured many changes since it came into being around 450 C.E as what is now known as Old English. It has changed through the influence of other languages including French, the Great Vowel Shift and the standardisation and codification of the language.

The text, The Gest of Robyn Hode, is a ballad, estimated to have been written around the 1450s or later, in Late Middle English, the Middle English period lasting from the 10th century to the 14th century. In comparison to the 1892 text, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, it depicts the English language as it was prior to the Great Vowel Shift and the language's standardisation.

The Great Vowel Shift was a phonological change began in the 15th century and continued on till the 18th century. The point of articulation for the long vowels shifted upwards, with vowel 'I' and 'U' becoming diphthongs, or 'gliding vowels' where two vowel sounds occur connected together like in 'eye' (ɑj)or 'hay' (he). For example, instead of saying 't(ai)me', they would have said 't(i:)me'. This can be seen in the texts through words like 'gode', 'stode' and 'prude', meaning 'good', 'stood' and 'proud'. They display the shift in the pronunciation of 'o' and the 'u' which can be heard here – http://eweb.furman.edu/~mmenzer/gvs/seehear.htm There are two main theories on how the shift occurred. The first is the 'pull theory' which states that the upper vowels were the first to shift and pulled the others up with them in a chain reaction. The other theory is that the lower vowels moved first, pushing the others along. It is yet unknown why the shift occurred though there are many theories that have been proposed. Linguist Dick Leith suggests a social explanation: as different accents began to meet and mingle in London, the bourgeoisie wanted to distance themselves from the lower classes and consciously shift the vowels higher. There are also great morphological differences. As the language had yet to be standardised there were many variant spellings of words that existed. From stanza 7 to stanza 16 of the Gest there are two variations of the word 'Little' for 'Little John', Robin Hood's companion and the words 'would' and 'our' are written with and without an 'e' on the end. The words themselves are spelt quiet differently from Modern English, the language of Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper. Words like 'would' and 'much' are spelt 'wold(e)' and 'moche', in the Middle English. The letters 'u' and 'v' also appear interchangeable or swapped, with 'loved' spelt 'loued' and 'unto' spelt 'vuntoo'. This also appears to occur with the letters 'y' and 'I' such as in 'Robyn' and 'dyd', though this is still observed today through variations in spelling of proper nouns like 'Katherine' and 'Kathryn' and the pronunciation of the letters themselves. Between the writing of the Gest and The Yellow Wallpaper, English had replaced French as the language of the powerful minority, the royals and aristocracy with King Henry IV using English in government business and in his correspondence in the 13th century. London then began to emerge as a political and commercial centre which exposed London English to the world. In 1476, the first printing press was established in Westminster, London by William Caxton, allowing cheap mass production of books, newspapers and other print work that had previously been done by hand. This allowed English, more specifically London English to spread. By the 1600s, with William Shakespeare, english was no longer a language for the lower common folk, it was a rich language that, as Shakespeare has shown, was a viable medium of expression. With english scientists like Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke, the English language was developing into all areas. It even travelled the globe with the ever expanding English Empire, picking up words here and there like 'canoe', 'yoga' and 'banjo', from the Caribbean, India and Africa respectively. There were also people like John Wallis, a grammarian to lead people in the judgements of the English language it's lack of order and logic. Yet it remained that there was no standard. Printers would use variant spellings of words to justify their lines and people would write how they liked. Then in 1755, Dr. Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language was published, considered the first real monolingual dictionary. The dictionary took him nine years to write and contained 42,773 entries. The 18th century was an age of prescription and many made cases for the changing and improving of English like Jonathan Swift who states that the English language is 'extremely imperfect' and 'offends against every part of Grammar'. Most objected to the language's ever changing nature comparing it to the classical languages of Latin and Greek which existed only as written languages and lacked the variance of languages that were spoken like English. Books were written on grammar, pronunciation and spelling, dictionaries continued to be made and revised as new words appeared in the language. The 18th century saw English losing features that made it so different to Modern English. At the time Gilman wrote The Yellow Wallpaper, in 1892, the language had developed to a point where the changes slowed to a crawl. The language is recognisable and easy to read by Modern English speakers today though the language is a little old fashions using phrases like 'ever so' and 'great many' for emphasis and the word 'queer' to simply mean strange as opposed to it's modern, more commonly associated meaning of 'homosexual'. The spelling of words it uniform, though not necessarily spelt as they are pronounced, as it happens in Gest, one of the confusing aspects of English that is criticised and makes the language difficult for foreign speakers. Comparing the two texts, the Gest and Gilman's story, the changes that have occurred to the English language are plain to see. 'Our' or 'Oure' Additional notes Perkins Gilman, Charlotte, "The Yellow Wallpaper", College of Staten Island Library, 1899 Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935):
Lecturer, Author, Social Activist and theorist
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